Date: March 12, 2014
Author(s): J.D. Kane
Mionix sent us two of its latest mice, the Avior 7000 and the near-identically equipped Naos 7000. They share basically the same design and internal components; the biggest difference is in form factor. As you might imagine, we’re taking a close look at both to try to see how good they stack up to each other, and the competition.
You know how some cars may wear different badges and sport slightly different bodywork, but are essentially the same design beneath the metal skin? One memorable example is General Motors’ old “pony car”: The Chevrolet Camaro and the now-dead Pontiac Firebird were near-perfect clones of each other. Another example is the mid-1990s Ford Probe and the Mazda MX-6. Heck, the same thing happens even in the rarefied air that is the supercar market space: The Audi R8 is basically a Lamborghini Gallardo wearing a German business suit over its mechanical bits instead of the Lambo’s Armani.
Well, what’s good for car companies is also good for PC peripheral manufacturers.
Mionix, for one, seems to think so. After all, its Avior 7000 and Naos 7000 – both of which are the co-subjects of this review – are basically the same mouse under the skin except for a couple of details.
This practice of using one basic design, then tweaking a few features here and there to generate at least two “different” products, begs the question: Why do companies do this?
In my opinion, it’s a very easy way to expand product lines. More product lines means more options for the consumer. And more options for the consumer means more sales.
It’s a very intelligent and elegant strategy, really. A company only invests once for initial design and R&D and pre-production tooling prep; this is probably the most financially-intensive part of a new product roll-out, so it only makes sense for a company to reduce this cost as much as possible. If the basic design of the product can be tweaked, the company can then easily expand its product line without incurring a bigger budget hit.
I think Mionix operates on this very sound principle. Throughout the course of this review we’ll see just how much the Avior 7000 and the Naos 7000 share with each other, as well as how divergent from each other they are.
So, let’s see each one up close.
The Avior 7000 is an ambidextrous mouse. As such, its bodywork is symmetrical. It has nine buttons: There are two buttons on each flank (for a total of four), the left- and right-click buttons, the clickable scroll-wheel, and the two DPI-switching buttons on the Avior 7000′s spine, just behind the scroll-wheel.
Speaking of the scroll-wheel, it is notably bereft of any side-scrolling functionality. Most mice I’ve tested for Techgage can do side-scrolling through the scroll-wheel. While I personally don’t use side-scrolling too much, it’s interesting that the Avior 7000 can’t do it.
The Avior 7000′s surface is covered with a matte black, smooth rubberized coating which is both comfortable to the touch as well as resistant to fingerprints. The coloration certainly lends the mouse a serious, austere aspect, although there is a concession to gamers’ desire for some kind of visual bling (which I’ll show later).
Here are a few other shots of the Avior 7000 in detail.
This left rear 3/4 view shows off the Avior 7000′s smooth rump, highlighted by a Mionix logo. Because the Avior 7000 is completely symmetrical, the right rear 3/4 view is an identical mirror image.
Here you can see the left flank of the mouse, featuring the pair of thumb buttons. Again, the right flank looks the same as this.
This shot shows off seven of the Avior 7000′s nine buttons, as well as the braided cable. It also shows the mouse’s sculpted flank quite well.
And this shot shows off the Avior 7000′s underside. The emitter for the ADNS-3310 IR-LED optical sensor is almost perfectly dead-center (sitting within the Mionix logo – the company does a great job reminding you who made the mouse, doesn’t it?). This view also shows off the Avior 7000′s two large feet.
The plan view shows off the fact that the Avior 7000 is an ambidextrous mouse.
Now that we’ve looked at the Avior 7000, let’s turn our attention to the Naos 7000.
Judging by this photo, the Naos 7000 doesn’t really look that different from the Avior 7000. It shows all seven of the mouse’s buttons as well as the braided cable. Like the Avior 7000, the Naos 7000′s left flank is sculpted and is covered with the same rubberized covering. Perhaps the only visual difference that one can discern from this perspective is that the Naos 7000 has a slightly rounder and higher rump.
Speaking of the mouse’s rump, this shot shows off the left 3/4 view.
This shot of the right rear 3/4 view clearly shows that the Naos 7000 is a right-handed mouse. The right flank is sculpted so that the right ring finger and pinky each sit in their own grooves. These grooves make handling this mouse very comfortable.
The rear view shows off the Naos 7000′s sculpted flanks even more dramatically. The left flank has a groove cut out for the thumb, and you can really see the right flank’s shape and how the ring- and little-fingers are supposed to rest on the mouse.
This photo shows another principal difference between this mouse and the Avior 7000. Where the Avior 7000 has a pair of buttons on the right flank, the Naos 7000 does not.
The plan view also reinforces the fact that the Naos 7000 is a right-handed mouse, and nothing but.
And here’s a look at the Naos 7000′s bottom. By the way, the optical sensor is identical to the one in the Avior 7000. Also, because of its greater width, Mionix installed two more feet on the Naos 7000.
The Naos 7000 is clearly a close relative of the Avior. Both mice are equipped with the same optical sensor which, incidentally, is capable to a maximum DPI rating of 7000 (which explains where Mionix derives the “7000″). They also both share a similar understated aesthetic.
The two Mionix mice share other features. Both have an onboard 32MHz ARM processor; both also have high-quality Omron mechanical switches which not only feel great to actuate, but are also rated to have a lifespan of 20 million clicks. Under the skin, therefore, it’s clear that the Avior and the Naos are each other’s twin.
I mentioned earlier that Avior 7000 features a concession to some gamers’ hankering for some visual bling in their gear. The Naos 7000 does, as well.
And here it is: Both Mionix mice have LED effects that show up through the logo on the mice’s rumps and in their scroll-wheels. The shot shows both mice lit up as plugged into the host machine sans their software packages installed. The mice’s software endows the user the ability to manipulate the LED effects as they so desire.
Speaking of the software, we’ll have a closer look at that in the next section.
Since they are USB devices, both of these mice work perfectly well straight out of the box. However, as Mionix itself states in the provided quick user guides packaged with the mice, users can custom-tailor their Mionix devices only if they install the lightweight software.
At this point, I have to say I’m a touch unclear about whether or not Mionix has one unified software package a la Logitech with its LGS, which we’ve seen in quite a few reviews of that company’s products already. I downloaded and installed two separate pieces of software; Mionix designated a software package for each mouse. I tried using the Avior 7000 with the Naos 7000′s software installed, and I couldn’t access the ability to manipulate the Avior’s settings.
At any rate, the latest version for both mice’s software is V1.19, so it’s easy to make the assumption that it’s the same exact piece of software. But as my findings suggest, this may not be the case.
The following sets of screenshots will show both pieces of software side-by-side. The layout and look of the UI is identical for the most part; the software does refer to the hardware it controls, however.
The first pair of screenshots shows the Mouse Settings tab of the UI. This is where you designate functions for each button on the mouse, as well as set such parameters as the polling rate, double-click speed, scroll speed, and pointer acceleration. The Avior, of course, has nine buttons compared to the Naos’ seven, so that’s one difference. Other than that, the software is basically the same for each mouse.
The Sensor Performance tab is where the user can set the DPI settings. Unlike most mice I’ve tested, both the Avior 7000 and Naos 7000 can have their DPI set to three different thresholds; most mice can have just a high and low DPI setting. The DPI can be set anywhere between 50 and 7000. This tab is also where users can enable Angle Snapping and set Pointer Speed and Lift Distance. Finally, the Surface Quality Analyzer Tool (S.Q.A.T.) is also found here. Mionix says the S.Q.A.T. “measures the data loss between the sensor and the gaming surface,” thereby helping users determine what kind of surface is optimal for their devices.
Color Settings is where the controls for the LED effects on the mice is located. Here the user can choose from up to 16.8 million different color options. I’d love to say that I cycled through all 16.8 million possible colors, but I have neither the time nor the visual acuity to do that. Also, I can only count reliably up to 49. Nevertheless, I did play with the LED colors on both mice, and I have to say that the software does a great job at controlling this part of the overall package. Color Settings, by the way, is also where you can control the LEDs’ behavior (not just their coloration). You can have both or neither LED on either mouse on, or you can select which one stays on (in the LED Lights section). You can also set the rate at which the LEDs go on and off (or, to leave them on all the time) via the LED Effects section of the UI.
Macro Settings is where users can create and store mouse-actuated macro commands.
Finally, Support is where users can find the various ways to get support for their Mionix product. There is a FAQ section, a button to connect directly with Mionix for customer/technical support inquiries, a Product Registration section, and a Downloads section where users can get firmware and software updates.
A great thing about the software is that users can save favorite settings in profiles. These user-defined profiles are stored on the local machine and not on any onboard memory (neither mouse has onboard memory). If you so desire, you can assign a button as a profile switcher, so you don’t even have to go into the software to change profiles.
I found the Mionix software for both mice to be superb, with excellent responsiveness and a straightforward and elegant UI. This is easily one of the best dedicated software I’ve had the pleasure of using, with a tight integration between it and the hardware it controls. The aesthetics of the UI are also quite pleasant as well.
Now that we’ve had a look at the software, let’s move to performance testing and some concluding thoughts.
I tested both the Avior 7000 and the Naos 7000 under various conditions, using them in gaming and non-gaming roles. The primary focus of the performance review will be on both mice’s ergonomics and functionality as well as some comments on their perceived quality of construction. I’ll also have some words about both mice’s aesthetics.
Ergonomically, both Mionix mice are quite superb. Although they are quite different from each other in this particular aspect – the Avior 7000 being a symmetrical, ambidextrous mouse, while the Naos 7000 is definitely just for right-handers – both are among the very best mice in terms of comfort. Both of them feel as if they were designed to fit my hand specifically. I know that that’s not the case, but Mionix’s engineers have set a very high standard for both ambidextrous and right-handed mouse designs. Even through hours of testing and use, my hand never felt tired or strained. Moreover, button placement felt perfect, particularly for the Avior 7000. Accessing the two right-flank buttons didn’t require any unusual shifts in grip. Also, the rubberized coating, while not exactly tacky and grippy, made holding the mice a pleasant experience. I personally would prefer a slightly grippy coating, but Mionix’s solution is still effective.
Speaking just for myself, because I’ve become accustomed to having an ambidextrous mouse (even though I am right-handed), the Avior 7000 is the better mouse for me. I particularly love the two extra buttons on the right flank. I use these to scroll up and down web pages, so not having this functionality is quite noticeable. On the other hand, some right-handed users just cannot adapt to anything other than a true right-handed mouse. For such users, the Naos 7000 is an excellent option. Except for the fact it’s short two buttons compared to the Avior, as well as the right-handed shape, the Naos 7000 is identical to its ambidextrous twin sister. Southpaws who use their left hand for their mouse, though, have no option but to buy the Avior 7000.
In terms of functionality, both mice were also quite good to use no matter what the usage scenario. Of course, both are designed for gaming, so I used them in a number of games. Whether if it’s for shooters such as Crysis 2/3, Battlefield 3, or any one of the myriad Call of Duty titles, or games such as Grand Theft Auto IV, both Mionix mice were a joy to use. The software’s ease of use and tight integration with both mice makes making adjustments easy. Mionix definitely meets the highest standard for gaming software as set by the likes of Logitech’s LGS.
My only nit to pick, though, is that the software doesn’t appear to be a “universal” software like the LGS. The LGS’ “one software to rule them all” approach is, by far, the best solution that is also flawlessly executed. On the flipside, though, Mionix’s software is likewise as flawless in use as any that I’ve used. Having separate software packages for each piece of hardware is a small price to pay. I mean, normal users will likely own only one or the other; no one will need to install both mice onto their PCs. So, looking at things from that perspective, Mionix’s decision to have one piece of software for each piece of hardware is really not that big of a deal. (I guess I’m just that enamoured with the LGS!)
Other people might criticize Mionix for not incorporating side-scrolling with both of these mice. As I had said before, I personally don’t use side-scrolling much; however, I think it would be entirely fair if other people feel put-off by the fact neither the Avior nor the Naos does side-scrolling.
Moving on to perceived build quality, both Mionix mice exude an aura of fine yet robust design. I wouldn’t say both the Avior and the Naos feel indestructible like miniature tanks in your hand; that might suggest that they are hardened yet clumsy devices. If anything, both are somewhat lighter than one might expect. However, the lack of weight is a great thing. Both feel agile, very easy to move. Also, every button actuates with a very satisfying click. Not only that, button action is not very long at all, particularly for the left- and right-click.
Aesthetically, I love the styling of both mice. Mionix keeps things simple, really. From the matte black finish to the tasteful size of the Mionix logo on both mice’s rump to the almost sensuous sculpting on the side surfaces (particularly on the Naos 7000), both of these mice will appeal to users who appreciate subtlety and austerity. Users who just crave bling-tastic LEDs aren’t left in the dark, either. Heck, as much as I prefer simple, understated designs, I’ve left the LEDs on the Avior 7000.
Yep, it’s now plugged into my primary machine.
I strongly suspect this guy’s going to be a keeper.
Truth be told, if I’d been more attuned to a strictly right-handed mouse, I suspect that I’d feel just as strongly about the Naos 7000. After all, under the skin they are pretty much the same mouse. Only the physical packaging is different.
Mionix really did a great job with the initial underlying design of both of these mice. Beginning with the ADNS-3310 optical sensor and the 32MHz ARM processor, allied with the elegant and effective software, both the Avior 7000 and the Naos 7000 have very few weaknesses and a good list of considerable strengths. Both mice are comfortable to use for hours on end; more than that, they are fun to use as well. Both exude superb quality of construction. And both are integrated with one of the best examples of configuration software around.
Both the Avior 7000 and the Naos 7000 have a MSRP of $79.99, so the choice as to which one you choose comes down to whether you prefer an ambidextrous design or a strictly right-handed one. Choosing the Avior 7000 also buys you an extra pair of fully-programmable buttons, mind you; however, even with the “disadvantage” of having two fewer buttons, the Naos 7000 is still a superb buy if what you’re looking for is a superb gaming right-handed mouse. It’s not as if you’d want the extra pair of buttons anyway if you’re used to a true right-handed mouse. I suspect it’d be hard to push the extra two buttons and maintain a comfortable grip on the mouse, anyway.
The bottom line is, both of these Mionix mice are winners. They’re different, but they’re the same as well.
The Mionix wonder twins, the Avior 7000 and the Naos 7000, both deserve Techgage’s Editor’s Choice award.
Mionix Avior 7000 and Naos 7000 Gaming Mice
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